Tottenham Hotspur were knocked out of the Europa League despite a spirited performance in the second half of the match against Benfica.
Tottenham Hotspur were on the back foot in this tie after suffering a disappointing 1-3 loss at White Hart Lane in the first leg against Benfica. Their misery were compounded ahead of this game due to injuries to a lot of key players and Tim Sherwood struggled to put a proper team out on the pitch for this game at Lisbon. Sandro was moved to the center of the defence while Sigurdsson and Bentaleb played in the pivot. But despite all these issues and going behind to a goal in the first half, Tottenham showed immense strength of character to fight back in the second half, before Benfica sealed the win with a late penalty.
The home side scored the opening goal in the 34th minute of the match as Salvio got free on the right hand side and delivered a wonderful cross for Ezequiel Garay to head it in. The tie looked over at the point as Tottenham needed to score three more goals at least, without conceding another, in order to remain in the game.
Tim Sherwood made few changes in the second half as Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen were brought on to the pitch. The 20-year-old forward made an instant impact on the game as he provided the assist for Tottenham’s opener with a header to find Nacer Chadli at the half-way mark of the pitch. The winger ran at the Benfica defence before sifting the ball to his right foot and striking it past Jan Oblak in Benfica’s goal. Chadli completed his brace just one minute later as Harry Kane won another header and assisted the 24-year-old midfielder. At this point it seemed as if Tottenham could do the unthinkable and turn around the two goal deficit from the first leg, but Benfica held on to the aggregate lead and sealed the win in the end with a goal from a spot-kick. Lima went down in the box under a challenge from Sandro and the substitute converted the resultant penalty to assure their place in the next round.
Tim Sherwood was delighted with the performance from his side despite the outcome of the match. He insisted that this performance showed that the players are behind him, contradicting to the rumours published in English media.
“People speculated, didn’t they. I read a lot of things saying now you need those players on your side.
“I think it’s evident they’re on my side and the side of the club. They fight for the cause and my little rant, if you want to call it one, has done them no harm.
“They have showed real character and real guts and they need to do that until the end of the season, because we’ve got some tough games ahead and I’m confident they will do that.” – The Tottenham manager said.
While Lima’s late penalty settled the match, Tottenham Hotspur were themselves denied a spot-kick after Harry Kane was apparently fouled by Miralem Sulejmani inside the box. Sherwood did rue that decision but insisted that his side did manage to ruffle a few feathers in the Benfica side and that the travelling fans would be proud of this performance.
“Sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t and at the moment, we’re not getting them.
“We had them where we wanted them. They were running scared, weren’t they?
“It was good to see their manager sweating. I did not see a suave character on the side, I thought someone who was really flustered, which was good to see.
“That is what we intended to do and that is what we achieved.
“Credit to Benfica, they go through over two legs. You have to say the one that scores the most goals deserves to go through.
“But for us, the 3,000 travelling fans from London must be proud of what they saw.
“The boys are very proud about what the fans have done for them tonight as they stuck behind them, travelling in numbers, and the boys have put on a performance which they can go and be proud of.” – Sherwood added.
There is no love lost between Tim Sherwood and Benfica manager Jorge Jesus following the unsavoury incident in the first leg which made all the headlines. But Sherwood opted to remain in the stands for this game and insisted he wanted to avoid any possible altercation with his adversary during the game.
“I just wanted to get a better view up there and maybe take some steam out of the situation. It was about what our boys could do against their boys on the pitch.
“Obviously there was a flare-up between me and their manager last week and I didn’t want that to take away from what we did on the pitch.
“The concentration was on the pitch and we played better than them.
“Congratulations to him, he’s got the chance to wave his fingers at a few more managers in this competition.” – He said in his post-match press conference.